an odd boy - Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ meets ‘Under Milk Wood’

This portrait of the artist as a young man – is a coming-of-age adventure set in the cultural ferment of the 1960s. A high-spirited escapade—humorous and poignant by turn—of an era when the arts set a generation’s imagination on fire.
March 2, 2011 - PRLog -- Midnight / late September 1964 / Surrey, England / a naked 12 year old schoolboy cycles to a country crossroad . . .  with a plastic guitar on his back / he wants to be a Bluesman like Robert Johnson / he’s heard about the deal he made with Papa Legba (the devil) – Johnson’s soul for the mastery of guitar / the boy needs a similar arrangement.    

An odd boy is a roman à clef – a memoire (1957—1975) of a Blues musician, poet, and art student – written in the form of heart-warming romantic novel.  At the age of five—when the story begins—the family doctor described him as ‘an odd boy’ – and in so doing, adventitiously depicted something of his precocious obsession with the Arts and romantic chivalry.

This portrait of the artist as a young man – is a coming-of-age adventure set in the cultural ferment of the 1960s. A high-spirited escapade—humorous and poignant by turn—of an era when the arts set a generation’s imagination on fire. It was an epoch of volatile excitement, naïve hope, and reckless experimentation. Music was the revolutionary edge and its protagonists saw no limits.

The author’s voice is whimsical, entertaining, yet insightful. The narrative is a roulette wheel of vicissitudes: childhood wonderment and traumatic debacles; debilitating childhood stammer and a powerful singing voice; emotional exhilaration and near despair; outrageous good fortune and plain bad luck; surprising encounters and untimely deaths. This optimistically nostalgic work paints emotional panoramas entirely bereft of maudlin sentiment. It is a surrealistic voyage – rather than a diary of hallucinogenic chaos.  The narrator is occasionally a victim of circumstances – but never a victim of self-destructive impulses.  He throws himself at life and love with verve. He meets with triumph and disaster – but picks up the pieces and takes to the road again with an irrepressible grin.

The primary readership will remember the ’60s fondly—or wish they had been there. It might be described as Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ meets ‘Under Milk Wood’. The best comparison may be with Bob Dylan’s ‘Chronicles’.  An odd boy is similar in form: an engaging narrative as the vehicle for a quixotic extravaganza within the world of the arts.

an odd boy

Extracts from an odd boy can be read on the website

an odd boy will be published by Aro Books worldwide ( in four volumes during 2011 and 2012

volume one

Volume one of an odd boy is a memoire of an eccentric aficionado of Bach and Blues, poetry and painting. A portrait of the artist as a lad, set in the experimental cultural ferment of the late 1960s. It is a coming-of-age adventure, both surreal and innocent, humorous and poignant, depicting an era when the Arts set a generation’s imagination on fire. The author’s life is a rare roulette wheel of childhood wonder and tragic debacles; a debilitating stammer and a powerful singing voice; bad luck and fierce good fortune. At 16 he’s travelled far in human experience from the midnight expedition he made to the crossroads at the age of 12.

volume two

Volume two of an odd boy tells of the high water mark of the British Blues Boom - and of Savage Cabbage, the band that could have rivalled Cream. Psychedelic lyrics are penned in pubs and poetry hurled at the night at peak volume. The arts became rampant street-culture in the mid '60s - and roared like wild-fire from '68 to '70: the author's exotic final school years. A chaotic interim plunges him choiclessly onto the stage as a solo Delta Blues performer. He meets with the remarkable John Martyn, and Blues musicians Jo Ann Kelly and Mike Cooper. Art school looms and he finds himself, standing with his harp and curious hand-built resophonic guitar, at yet another crossroads.

volume three

Volume three of an odd boy tells of the foundation course at Farnham Art School from '70 to '72. At Hatch Mill, the 'warren of wonders', the author steps out of time into a world of creative camaraderie where every meeting is a scene from a surrealist play. '72 marked the end of the '60s gestalt - but before the final curtain call, a tumult of bizarre scenes tumble across the panchromatic stage: strange liaisons with transient heroes and heroines of the lost time; the Farnham Blues Festival; burlesque love stories; and, the religion of Art. He meets Adrian Henry and Roger McGough - poetry and oil paintings co-mingle with loves won and lost. He finds himself as a rising star on the British Blues scene - but with the death of Jimi Hendrix, it's the end of an era. He steps off the stage, takes to the road - and arrives, ironically, at the familiar crossroads.

volume four

Volume four of an odd boy begins in Bristol, England - and ends in Heights Café in Brooklyn New York.  The author finds himself in an unlikely romance with the cerebrally rarefied Claudette Gascoigne. He joins a household with her three friends - music and drama students, with who he explores Jazz-Classical fusion. For three years he returns to the lost time of the late '60s in the philosophical company of these three unusual young ladies. His finds a superlative mentor in the inspired figure of Derek Crowe and is facilitated in the creation his own BA degree curriculum. At the end of his sojourn at Bristol Art School, he finds himself at the crossroads again. He takes to the road - this time bound for the Himalayas.  After a hiatus of thirty years the road brings him back - almost to where he began. He encounters Maxwell Jefferson a Blues bass player and member of the Federation of Black Cowboys. Their meeting marks the end of a journey, a reunion with Blues, the culmination of a vision of the Arts as the saving grace of humanity; and, the start of an adventure that has no end. Welcome home.

About Doc Togden

Born in 1952 in Hannover Germany—of an English Father and German mother—Doc Togden was raised in Surrey, England. He obtained school qualifications mainly in English and the Arts where he obtained A grades in English Language, Literature, and Art. He was a founding member of the Savage Cabbage Blues Band – public from 1968–1970. He attended Farnham Art School during 1970–1971 and Bristol Art School during 1972–1975 where he obtained a 1st class honours degree. In 1988 he obtained a doctorate from the Visva Bharati University of Santiniketan in West Bengal India for his research into Tantric Psychology.

"Ladies are splendid magical beings like unicorns, albatrosses, owls, or flying fish. They hit the surface of reality like whales surging up from a hundred fathoms. They’re suddenly there—sparkling like the very Christmas tree at the end of time—decked out with every delight imaginable. Ladies are Art. Not in the demeaning objectified sense sans personality – but radiant presences residing in the space of life. "

-- Doc Togden

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Aro Books worldwide exists in order to make available the teachings from the Aro Tradition of Nyingma Buddhism for the benefit of those who wish to live their lives with openness, kindness and appreciation. Aro Books worldwide seeks to make teachings available to the broadest possible audience via: hard copy or download; books; journals; magazines; audio; and in visual format.
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